United Nations chief Antonio Guterres is set to appoint a Moscow envoy in Vienna to head a newly created U.N. Office of Counterterrorism, officials and diplomats said on Wednesday, giving a Russian a top job at U.N. headquarters in New York. Russia’s Ambassador to International Organisations in Vienna, Vladimir Voronkov, told Reuters he met with Guterres on Tuesday. An announcement on the appointment is expected this week, officials and diplomats said.
“Countering terrorism is one of the things that most countries can work with Russia on,” said a senior Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. “We have very different views on what counts as a terrorist and what counts as an appropriate response to terrorism from Russia, but at least it’s a discussion we can have more easily than we can have on political affairs or peacekeeping,” the diplomat said.
Nationals from four of the five veto-wielding powers on the U.N. Security Council – the United States, Britain, France and China – have for the past decade held senior U.N. posts at the world body’s headquarters in New York.
An American heads U.N. political affairs, a French man has run peacekeeping, a Brit has been in charge of humanitarian affairs, and a Chinese national has run economic and social affairs. For the past seven years a Russian has headed the Vienna-based U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.
“It is fair to say that the Russians are under-represented at the U.N. at the most senior levels. On the whole they have put forward incredibly poor candidates for very senior jobs,” the senior Western diplomat said.
The 193-member United Nations General Assembly approved the creation of a U.N. Office on Counterterrorism last week, which will help states implement a global counterterrorism strategy adopted by the General Assembly in 2006.
The strategy, which has been reviewed every two years, aims to address the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, measures to prevent and combat terrorism, build states’ capacity to do so, and ensure respect for human rights and the rule of law as the basis for the fight.